What Makes Happy

So the same things don’t seem to drive happiness for everyone. 


Some like big jobs and lots of power. 


Others are happier with more work-life balance. 


Some like to pursue lots of degrees and certifications.


Others like to learn on their own and through life experience. 


Some like to travel the world.


Others like a day in nature or at the museum. 


Some like big families and lots of people around them. 


Others like smaller families, close friends, intimacy, or even being more on their own. 


Some like lots of money. 


Other are happy with having what they need.


Some like to be tremendous athletes. 


Other like to just stay fit or maybe are more comfy as “couch potatoes.”


Some like to be very religious and follow all the laws.


Others prefer mindfulness, a sense of spirituality and being a “good person.”  


Some like lots of activities and to always do different things. 


Others are more comfortable with routine and incremental change. 


We all have basic needs, but we also have different values, priorities and comfort zones. 


Happiness isn’t a yes or no answer, but what makes us feel on track and doing good. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Jerusalem Center of The World

I love this map by Heinrich Bunting, a German Protestant pastor and cartographer. 


This beautiful artist and thoughtful map was published in 1581.


It shows the 3 continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa as 3 leaves of a clovers with Jerusalem at the center. 


Jerusalem, Israel is the focus, nexus and crossroad between these 3 worlds of Western, Asian, and African civilizations. 


Israel is so multi-cultural and holy to the 3 major monotheistic religions of the world (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism).  


Light, healing, peace, and prosperity should emanate from Jerusalem to the whole world and G-d should bless us from his heavenly abode.  😉


(Source Photo: Wikipedia)

North Korea — No Deal!

This is sort of what I feel happened with North Korea and the U.S. at the Summit in Vietnam this week. 


We went into this thinking that the enticement of moving from war to prosperity, like with Vietnam, would set the stage for North Korea to see that truly, peace is the answer! 


But when there is no real trust between the people negotiating, then you get a lot of gesturing, but no real determination to make a commitment–like getting rid of those crazy nukes!


For now from North Korea’s perspective, “one in the nukes is worth two in the prosperity”…and they aren’t going to disarm so easily and give away what they consider their ace in the hole.  


High hopes, lots of drama, confusion and blame, and ultimately a big let down.


If North Korea would give up their nukes, and Iran would give up their pursuit of nukes…WOW, WOW, WOW, oh what a world that would be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Not So Civil Service

At one time, it was considered a great honor to work for the Federal government, and people fought for the jobs and to take the civil service exam. 


The Civil Service was not only a term, but also a reality filled with honor, dedication, and devotion to one’s country. 


Working for the Federal government meant interesting and exciting work opportunities not only defending our great nation, but in making it just and prosperous, and literally a beacon of freedom for the world. 


While no one became rich working for the government, you could make a stable living, build tenure over your service, and finally receive a pension upon retirement. 


Over the course of almost 20-years of my federal career, I have had the opportunity to serve in positions that I only could have dreamed about as a child, and to feel such pride in serving. 


But it seems like times have taken a turn for the worse either willfully or through neglect:


– From Capitol Hill to the Executive Department, we see the extremus of polarization and endless obstacles to getting anything done.  


– With each change in administration, aside from a change of leadership and direction at the top of each Department, the workforce is seemingly accused of subversion for the other side and turned on itself. 


– Just recently, we’ve seen the longest federal government shutdown lasting 35 days and with hundreds of thousands of Federal workers required to work without pay at the time. 


– We have also seen many years of pay freezes–with not even a meager cost of living adjustment (COLA), while the overall economy is booming!


– The pay for grades at the upper levels are hitting up against the Congressional limits with multiple pay steps being the same pay and no increase for career advancement or growth of responsibilities. 


– Employees have been forced to endure the A-76 outsourcings, threats of disbanding entire agencies, demands to reduce the size of government, and hiring freezes even while serving a larger population requiring ever more services. 


– There have been limitations on the power of employee unions, and an ongoing series of tightening of benefits from CERS to FERS and continuing thereafter requiring greater employee contributions and what feels like ever less benefit payouts. 


– Staff are threatened with firing in a short(er) period of time for making a small number of mistakes to a host of “conduct” issues that may or may not be true, and may at times be the outcome of poor leadership rather than problematic employees.


– The system for employment grievances and judging these has gone without a quorum for the longest period on the books and the backlog of cases continues to build. 


While no system is perfect, and there are bad apples on every side, there clearly seems to be a devolution of the federal service, and what this means for governing and for our defense and prosperity is yet to be fully felt. 


For me, serving the Federal government has been one of the greatest honors and has been many of the best years of my life. My wish is for others going forward to have a positive and productive experience as well. 


Perhaps with an appreciation and true respect for the millions of good men and women that serve our country–from the front lines to the back offices–we can once again create a system that is equitable, fair, and just and that inspires the world-class results we needs for our nation and our people. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Prayer For Rosh Hashanah

Please see my new Times of Israel post with a heartfelt:

Prayer for Rosh Hashanah.


May it be truly a year of blessings. 


Wishing everyone a sweet and happy New Year!


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

One G-d, Many Stories

So we went to the mall and there was a new Indian gift store.


We went in to take a look, and they had all sorts of things, but one section had a lot of colorful statues. 


We didn’t even really know what we were looking at when one of the young lady salespeople came over to explain. 


And she’s pointing to different statues and saying that this is the “G-d of love,” this is the “G-d of prosperity,” this is the “G-d for removing obstacles,” etc. 


I said to her questioningly (non-judgmental), “So we are Jews, and we believe in monotheism. How do you understand this concept of different ‘G-ds’?”


She said, “Well, I learned about these growing up in India, but the way I’ve come to terms with this is that these “G-ds” are really different ‘faces’ of one G-d” and then she started to tell us the “stories” of them. 


So in her explanation, when they are confronting challenges in life, they pray to the “face of G-d” that focuses on removing those obstacles, and when they are seeking prosperity then they pray to that “face of G-d” so on and so forth. 


It was interesting to me how this young lady came to find a monotheistic interpretation and path for herself and perhaps others who have similar beliefs.  


I wondered to myself whether this understanding can be in a way be similar to the Jewish concept of G-d having different attributes like midat Rachamin, din, etc. 


Of course, I know that G-d loves all of us, and I respect everyone’s personal beliefs.


For me and my traditional Jewish belief system, I wholeheartedly affirm as my namesake Abraham:

Sh’ma Yis’rael, Hashem Elo’kenu, Hashem Echad.
Hear O’ Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is one.  

 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Moshe Shalom)